Against the state’s official count of 1.42 lakh Covid-19 deaths, Maharashtra has received 2.17 lakh applications for the ex-gratia amount of Rs 50,000 for those who succumbed to the pandemic. Officials said that nearly a third of the claims are duplicates. So far, nearly 50,000 claims have been rejected while 1.10 lakh applications have been approved in the state.
After strictures were passed by the Supreme Court, Maharashtra government started disbursing the ex-gratia to the kin of Covid-19 deceased patients on December 9, 2021. Till January 18, the state recorded 2.17 lakh applications, which is 34 per cent more than its official Covid-19 death toll.
An official from the state relief and rehabilitation department said, “Nearly 30 per cent of the total applications are duplications. So, this doesn’t indicate that Maharashtra has recorded 2.17 lakh Covid-19 deaths. During our investigation, we have also found that people with malign intentions submitted incorrect information to get the money.”
So far, of the 1.10 lakh applications approved, 1.01 lakh have already received the compensation. “We are expecting that the total authentic claim will be around 1.50 lakh with an addition of 8,000-10,000 extra deaths to the state’s official figure,” said the officer.
A total of 50,000 applications have been rejected. Other than duplications, error in filling up the forms is the second biggest reason for rejections. For instance, under ‘name of the deceased’ section, many applicants have mentioned ‘Covid-19’, considering it as ‘name of the disease’.
Of the total rejected applications, 9,000 have appealed to the district grievances redressal cell. The option to apply for a physical appeal is available on the portal— mahacovid19relief.in.
The committees set up for the purpose — consisting of additional district collector, chief medical officer of health and head of department of medicine of a medical college among others — would be provided direct access to the medical report of the deceased patients from the hospital and public health department for examination.
“Considering the surge in Covid-19 cases, we are allocating appointment dates to avoid crowding of the applicants,” said the officer quoted above. “Nearly 30 per cent of the appeals may be genuine but it is up to the committee to decide,” the officer added.
Compared to December 2021, the number of daily applications for the ex-gratia has plunged from 10,000 to nearly 2,000 in January 2022. Considering Mumbai has the highest number of deaths, most number of applications has been recorded from the state capital followed by Pune and Thane.
“Other than Covid-19 related queries, the war rooms also get a lot of calls regarding the ex-gratia. The call attenders have been trained to address the queries,” said Suresh Kakani, additional commissioner, BMC.
Considering the 1.42 lakh Covid-19 deaths in state, the relief and rehabilitation department has estimated a budget of Rs 700 crore for compensation.